Brig Key, SS Leviathan

Although not marked, this key is reputed to be from the brig, or jail cell, of the ocean liner Leviathan. According to collector and historian Frank Braynard, the key's donor, it hung on a wood plaque for many years in the model shop of the New York naval architecture firm of Gibbs and Cox, the company that renovated the Leviathan for American passenger service in 1922-23. Presumably, it came to be there after the ship was scrapped in Scotland after 1938.
The ocean liner Leviathan was built as the Vaterland for Germany's Hamburg-American Line in 1914. During World War I the American government seized the ship and operated it as a troopship. After a complete reconditioning at Newport News, Virginia, in 1922-23, the Leviathan became the flagship of the new United States Lines, which operated it for the U.S. Shipping Board until 1929. Subsequently sold into private hands, the ship ran until 1934. Laid up as a result of high operating costs and low Depression-era patronage, the Leviathan was sold to Scottish shipbreakers in 1938 and dismantled.
Currently not on view
date made
used date
Associated Place
United States: New York
average spatial: 1 1/4 in x 3 3/4 in; x 3.175 cm x 9.525 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Frank O. Braynard, Sea Cliff, New York
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
America on the Move
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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